International collaboration: It is not only a matter of with whom but with how many?

Collaboration through co-authorship is a long studied field of work in scientometrics. The notion of international collaboration has been widely acknowledged through bibliometric data as a positive factor to improve the citation impact and visibility of publications. What is more, the share of international collaboration is an indicator of success used in many evaluation exercises at the individual level (e.g., Ramón y Cajal in Spain) and it is included in the set of indicators pre-calculated in many bibliometric suites such as Clarivate’s InCites.

At the country level, international collaboration can be seen as a way of bridging with other countries or belonging to the global community. However, little is known on the mechanisms that lead to this or the type of collaboration needed to do so. With regard to developing research systems, international collaboration can serve as a means to increase investment and capacity building1,2. Still, is international collaboration good no matter with whom or how many. Can we observe differences in terms of fields or type of development depending on the partners countries collaborate with?

My colleagues and I have recently got accepted a paper3 at the Globelics Conference 2017 in which we explore types of international collaborating partners for selected countries in South-East Asia. We part from the concepts of multilateral and bilateral collaboration developed by Glänzel and de Lange4,5 to analyze the international collaboration trend of six leading science systems among the ASEAN group of countries (Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia, Philippines, Vietnam and Indonesia). While the analysis is yet very preliminary, we do observe differences on the major partners and fields of these countries depending on the type of multi or bilateral collaboration they have with the country. We also find different temporal trends on the evolution of international collaboration between these six countries, suggesting different developing stages of their national system. We hope to explore and expand these analyses in the future.


Wagner CS, Leydesdorff L. Network structure, self-organization, and the growth of international collaboration in science. Research Policy. 2005;34(10):1608-1618. doi: 10.1016/j.respol.2005.08.002
Wagner CS, Park HW, Leydesdorff L. The Continuing Growth of Global Cooperation Networks in Research: A Conundrum for National Governments. Glanzel W, ed. PLoS ONE. 2015;10(7):e0131816. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0131816
Woolley R, Robinson-Garcia N, Costas R. Global research collaboration: Partners and networks in South-East Asia. In: Athens, Greece; 2017.
Glänzel W, De Lange C. Modelling and measuring multilateral co-authorship in international scientific collaboration. Part II. A comparative study on the extent and change of international scientific collaboration links. Scientometrics. 1997;40(3):605-626. doi: 10.1007/bf02459304
De Lange C, Glänzel W. Modelling and measuring multilateral co-authorship in international scientific collaboration. Part I. Development of a new model using a series expansion approach. Scientometrics. 1997;40(3):593-604. doi: 10.1007/bf02459303

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